(first of a series..)
26, for me, is the most strategic age to start planning how the rest of your life will turn out to be. it is the middle ground between being retrospective of the things of your youth and being clairvoyant of the prospects of your future. being 26 means not being too young to start thinking about your life adventures thus far, while also not being too old that you are set out on your ways -- to the contrary, you can always have a healthy mix of both these worldviews, so you can adapt to the ways of world.
adapting, mind you, does not always imply compromising, but more often than not, it entails discarding all those rose-colored life perceptions that have broken you in the past.
in the end, what is important is that you have learned, and what matters is how your life goes on from now. these, through the years, have been my realizations about being 26, and about the absurdity that has become my life:
by this time, it might already be apparent to you that the universe does not operate by your standards. corollary to this time-tested truth, you might have been the most brilliant university student who aced both math and english, excelled in c0-curricular activities, and was a campus figure that was well-loved by both your teachers and secret admirers (sometimes, even by both sexes, or even by teachers of both genders). but work is not an extension of your school reputation.
here, you get broken to the truth that in order to be mainstream, you oftentimes need to think less so you can earn more. even when you have that ultimate dream job etched in your mind and you imagine yourself to be doing what your heart prods you to do, the universe can be a bitch and it may slap you with a job that only requires you to use a quarter of your brain.
even when the most complicated math problems in college was the air that kept you alive in college, and your prose was the most beautiful in your literature class, you still need to go out and smell the stinking stench of office politics. yes, that is one facet of your job that the universe has especially prepared for you. so do not be surprised when all of a sudden, you find yourself at the pit, and you need to slither your way to the top -- because if you are brilliant, your sparkle will inevitably shine through.
if you are currently employed, ask yourself: do i still see myself doing this after 10, 15, or 20 years? if your heart's honest answer is yes, then slug it out with an impassioned heart and a tempered mind -- feel that this is what you will be doing for the rest of your life, but be consoled by your knowledge that not everything will go according to plan. be wise.
if, on the other hand, your heart softly tells you to abandon ship, resign from your job as soon as you can, before you get sucked up entirely by it. it takes daring and courage to own up to this, but you need to remember that your decision now will inevitably bleed to your conception of self 10 to 20 years from now. you owe it to your future self. if you are unhappy now, then this sadness is exponentially bound to multiply if you do not do anything about it.
these routines, after all, have an uncanny way of normalizing sadness, and mediocrity, through time, becomes ideal. leave while your faculties still have the power to distinguish one from the other. otherwise, your tragedy is in the offing.
by this time, you are well aware that the fairy tale kind of love does not exist, or if it does, it does not last long. it might be possible for you to reminisce your first love or the trappings of love unrequited, but most probably too, you have been broken by the most painful heartache your heart has ever known. if you are lucky, you may have been meticulously reattached into one coherent whole after that; but if you're not, you may still be reeling from the brokenness of empty promises, farce substitutes to commitment, and i-love-yous that do not sustain.
even when you may have lost a little faith in your personal conception of love, as much as possible, do not be jaded and abandon it entirely. it is okay to lose faith in people, but never in love. if anything, you just need to temper your romantic exploits, and be extra cautious with who you choose to surrender your heart to. love, according to desiderata, is perennial as the grass -- therefore, pine for it, but do not be blinded by the intensity of your emotions once it engulfs you entirely. yes, you may think that what you feel is the real deal, but you also need to temper your emotions with these musings:
first, does it feel like a perfect match? at 26, it is important to look for someone who can keep up with both your endearments and eccentricities. as much as possible, look for someone who shares your heart's passions and basks in the same crimson sunsets that warm your heart. do not settle for anything else, because on the second question;
is your partner there because of the intertwining of emotions or is it because of something else? at 26, you cannot be faulted for looking for someone who can assure you of companionship, because to be completely truthful, sometimes, getting by life alone is scary. or scarier, than when you have someone to help you deal with it. but when this personal fear of being alone supersedes the innate passions that you have for each other, you need to disabuse yourself and let go. move on and let go, because at this crucial point in your life, you need to look for the real deal, and not settle for what is merely comfortable and familiar.
if you fret that the universe has deprived you of that beautiful soul who will make your days more magical than usual, you could not be any more mistaken. we all have our life adventures mapped out before us, and when your personal circumstance and cosmic destiny converges to make your epic love story happen, embrace it wholeheartedly - because even when relationships are complicated and your emotions may be volatile, you know that your heart can sift through romances that will inevitably wither.
your heart never lies to you, so when it speaks, listen to it intently.
(to be continued..)